For those that follow Major League Baseball, it should come as no surprise that current Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen is once again the center of controversy. Mr. Guillen, who is notorious for his brain-to-mouth filter malfunctions, was recently quoted in a Time Magazine article as saying:
“I respect Fidel Castro,” Guillen said in the article. “You know why? A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years, but that son of a bitch is still there (CNN, 2012).”
Mr. Guillen went on to explain “he loves Castro and respects him for staying in power for so long (ESPN, 2012).” For his efforts in expressing his candid thoughts, Mr. Guillen earned himself a five game suspension as well the ire of many within the local and cultural Cuban/Latin American community.
While I’m not one for political correctness, I am a proponent of tact and class. Mr. Guillen displayed a serious lack of both regarding his comments. Mr. Guillen works and lives in the epicenter of Cuban/Latin American culture. There are too many people still alive and kicking that remember well and were adversely affected by the atrocities committed by Fidel Castro. Anyone that knows better knows any kind words used in the same sentence as Castro, especially in Miami, Florida, will not be well received. Mr. Guillen’s biggest mistake, along with lack of tact, class, and sensitively, was his lack of awareness of the audience that helps pay his paycheck.
Mr. Guillen has attempted to atone for his folly through repeated apologies. In doing so, he has attempted to clarify and explain his intent. Mr. Guillen explained that his original context was lost in translation from Spanish to English. He expounded that he did not respect and love Fidel Castro the person, rather he “was surprised Castro was able to remain in power so long, given the number of people he had hurt since taking power (ESPN, 2012).” Despite his clarification and explanation, Mr. Guillen will more than likely remain reviled long after his suspension is over.
What’s sad here is Mr. Guillen technically did nothing wrong. This is the United States of America, right? Mr. Guillen is a United States citizen. As a citizen, he has the right to freedom of speech, to express himself without judgment or retribution, right? Right?? Based on the five-game suspension, as well as Vigilia Mambisa, a Cuban-American advocacy group calling for Mr. Guillen’s resignation, it appears he does not (ESPN, 2012).
What’s ultimately sad here is the knee-jerk reaction of those unable to rationalize at a deeper level. It is possible to respect the actions of a person, without respecting the person. The fact that Fidel Castro is still alive after all these years despite the wrongs he has committed against his people is remarkable and should be respected. This does not mean the man, Fidel Castro, should be respected.
Many have labeled Ozzie Guillen as “crazy”. Some have called Mr. Guillen a “lunatic”. However, it appears this crazy lunatic “gets it” and is able to rationalize on a level that so many cannot. That doesn’t say much for the simpletons that disparage him and don’t “get it”.
CNN. (2012, April 10). Marlins suspend manager Guillen for 5 games; he apologizes for Castro comments. Retrieved April 10, 2012, from CNN: http://news.blogs.cnn.com/2012/04/10/miami-marlins-suspend-manager-guillen-for-five-games/?hpt=hp_t1
ESPN. (2012, April 10). Ozzie Guillen suspended five games. Retrieved April 10, 2012, from ESPN: http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/7795152/ozzie-guillen-miami-marlins-suspended-five-games